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Job Photographs

  • A man sits at a desk next to a window.  He is using a computer and has two computer monitors on his desk.  A woman is standing next to him and they are talking.

    Working with a project manager.

  • A man sits at a desk by a window, using a computer and speaking into a telephone.

    Discussing a technical issue with a colleague on the phone.

  • A man sits at a desk, using a handheld electronic device.  A notepad is placed on the desk next to him.

    Testing an application on a handheld device.

  • A man sits a desk near a window, using a computer.  He has two computer monitors on his desk.

    Developing code for an application.

  • A man sits at an office desk, reading a computer magazine.

    Keeping up to date with developments in computer technology.

  • A man is sitting at an office desk, reading a paper document.

    Checking some test reports.

  • A man is sitting at a desk near a window.  There are two computer monitors on the desk.  A woman is standing next to him and they are talking.

    Discussing the application with the project manager.

  • A man sits at a desk in a large office.  He is using a computer and is looking at two monitors on his desk.

    Testing the application.

  • Software Developer

Software Developer

Introduction

As a Software Developer, you will write the coding that instructs computers to perform particular tasks. You will be helping to create the many applications that make our lives easier, whether that be at school, work, or at home.

Also known as

  • Applications Programmer
  • Programmer, Computer Applications
  • Software Developer
  • Web Developer
  • Developer/Programmer

Video: - Tim: Technical Director

Work Activities

As a Software Developer, you will write the coding that instructs computers to perform particular tasks. You will be developing the many applications around us that make our lives easier, whether that be at school, work, or at home.

Normally you will be given a project to work on. A typical development project would include:

  • gathering all the program requirements - what task will it perform, and where and how?
  • creating a test version of the required program
  • checking the test version to make sure it does all it is required to do
  • writing and developing the actual final version of the program
  • testing the program, before it actually goes 'live'
  • maintaining the program, to make sure it continues to perform its tasks correctly

Often you will work in a team, with each person contributing to the final program. You might work closely with Project Managers, Software Testers, Graphic Designers and Database Managers, for example.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Software Developer, you'll need to:

  • have IT and programming skills
  • be good at problem solving
  • pay attention to detail
  • have excellent teamworking skills
  • concentrate for long periods of time
  • manage your time, prioritise tasks and work under the pressure of meeting a deadline
  • keep accurate records
  • be prepared to keep up to date with developments in software and programming languages/tools

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £29,000 - £34,000
  • With experience: £37,500 - £44,500
  • Senior Software Developers earn £49,000 - £55,000

Hours of work

Software Developers usually work 35-37 hours, Monday to Friday.

Where could I work?

Employers include large computer-using organisations, software companies and computer manufacturers. Other employers are small businesses that develop software such as apps for phones, tablets and notebooks.

Opportunities for Software Developers occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.

This career could include working for an agency.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for Software Developers to work on a freelance basis - usually on short-term contracts.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on specialist IT job boards and employers' websites, in computing magazines and professional journals, in local/national newspapers, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.

Short-term contract work is found through specialist IT recruitment agencies.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

If you have completed at least two A levels, including one in a relevant subject, then you will be able to start work as a Software Developer. See the subjects section, for a list of relevant A level subjects, that could help you to get in.

A degree isn't essential for this job. However, degrees in relevant subjects are available at many universities. In order to get onto a degree course you will usually need at least two A levels.

Another option is to get onto a Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant area.

An A level in an IT based subject would be a great help.

So now is a great time to start planning your route through to university. IT based subjects at GCSE and A level would help you to stand out from the crowd.

Training

If you would like some more training, then there is a BTEC level 3 qualification in computing and software development. This course will allow you to build the skills you need to become a Software Developer. The units that you could be studying include:

  • the principles of computer science
  • games programming
  • computer networking
  • website development
  • systems analysis and design
  • communication technologies

To complete your qualification, you will need to complete coursework based assessments.

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

Some new entrants gain skills in computer help desk or similar work before moving on to applications programmer posts.

Progression

As a Software Developer, you can progress to senior posts and to project management positions after further training and experience. Some experienced Developers work on a freelance basis.

Qualifications

For entry to a degree course in computer science, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • English and maths at GCSE

To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.

Maths could be required at A level for some courses.

Alternative level 3 qualifications to A levels include:

  • BTEC - computing and software technologies
  • BTEC - professional competence for IT and telecoms professionals
  • BTEC - software development
  • City & Guilds - ICT professional competence
  • City & Guilds - advanced technical diploma in digital technologies (application development)
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Entry

Some new entrants gain skills in computer help desk or similar work before moving on to applications programmer posts.

If you are a graduate with a non-relevant degree, entry is still possible with some employers. However, taking a one-year information technology postgraduate conversion course will improve your chances.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Another option would be an HNC in computing on a part-time basis, either evening and/or daytime. Alternatively, taking short intensive courses in specific computing languages with private accredited IT training providers can help you to develop the portfolio of technical skills needed by employers. Courses are available on a flexible, evening, weekend or day part-time basis.

Distance learning

Distance learning opportunities include the Open University's degree and postgraduate courses in computing and software development.

Many educational institutions offer specific qualifications on a distance/online learning basis, such as the degree in Computing and Information Systems from the University of London's International Programmes. Computeach offers courses by distance learning, including the Programming Professional course.

Funding

Sponsorship for degree-level study of computing can be available through some of the larger IT companies.

Statistics

  • 11% of people in occupations such as computer developer are self-employed.
  • 4% work part-time.
  • 26% have flexible hours.
  • 3% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Queen's University Belfast

Irish enquiries

Website: www.qub.ac.uk

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Big Ambition

Email: bigambition@e-skills.com

Website: www.bigambition.co.uk

Bring IT On

Irish enquiries

Website: www.bringitonni.info

Guardian Technology

Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU

Tel: 020 3353 2000

Email: tech@guardian.co.uk

Website: www.guardian.co.uk/technology

University of London International Programme

Tel: 020 7862 8360

Website: www.londoninternational.ac.uk

Computeach

Address: University House, Jews Lane, Gornal, Dudley, West Midlands DY3 2AH

Tel: 01384 458515

Email: info@computeach.co.uk

Website: www.computeach.co.uk

Institution of Analysts and Programmers (IAP)

Address: Boundary House, Boston Road, London W7 2QE

Tel: 020 8434 3685

Email: admin@iap.org.uk

Website: www.iap.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Tech Partnership

Email: info@thetechpartnership.com

Website: www.thetechpartnership.com/

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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